Kneel Before VOD: April 4th
Welcome to Kneel Before VOD, where the latest offerings on various video-on-demand platforms are highlighted for your streaming pleasure. With so many options these days from a range of different services, it can be daunting to select just one film without ending up making a list of a couple dozen. Below, find what we've selected as great entertainment choices to keep things simple.
M. Night Shyamalan is back. After years of disappointment after disappointment, the director has delivered a fantastic TV series (Wayward Pines) and two great films back to back. His latest, Split, is possibly his best movie to date. James McAvoy gives bravura performances as a man with dangerous multiple personalities. Some of the personalities are sweet and harmless, but a few are sinister. The evil ones kidnap three young women who quickly figure out they can exploit the weaker personalities in order to escape the dungeon-like apartment they're trapped in. Each personality has their own quirks that McAvoy uses to distinguish them from each other brilliantly. You can always tell who you're looking at just by looking at small details on McAvoy's face. It's an impressive feat that makes the movie's central plot extra engaging.
The Founder (2016)
Early on, The Founder looked like it was going to be a serious Oscar contender. Michael Keaton's chances at a second Best Actor nomination were snuffed out unceremoniously, and the movie released to little fanfare. It still ended up as an interesting biopic that served as a good platform for Keaton, who goes all out in his performance as Ray Kroc, the man that turned McDonald's into a multi billion dollar empire by stealing it from the men that created it. Much like the chain restaurant at the center of the film, The Founder will reliably satisfy, but it won't leave you feeling much of all when it's over.
World War II is an incredibly well-documented war. We have an impressive amount of footage, but we don't really know why we have it. Netflix's original documentary goes behind the camera to focus on five American directors who captured the largest war in recorded history on film. The documentary is split into three parts and features interview with a who's who of modern directors like Steven Spielberg, Guillermo Del Toro, and Francis Ford Coppola. If you need any more selling, the thing is narrated by Meryl Streep. Yep.
Otherwise an endearing if unremarkable indie, Hello, My Name is Doris is made infinitely more memorable because of one reason: Sally Field. She's shy, she's sweet, she's imperfect. The mousy Doris is made lovable by an incredible perceptive performance by Field. Doris decides that she's not going to let her usual shy personality get in the way again and pursues her crush on her coworker John (New Girl's Max Greenfield). Michael Showalter directs, and while his fellow The State alum David Wain usually goes for a wacky, broad style, Showalter opts for slower scenes and characters with more depth. It's a little less distinct, but it makes a significant positive impact on story.
Based on the 90s sitcom of the same name, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie continues the exploits of the self-obsessed social pariahs Patsy and Edina as they fumble their way through more wacky social situations. At a fashion show after part early on in the film, Edina accidentally knocks supermodel Kate Moss into the Thames, and the two spend the rest of the movie running from the cops and paparazzi while attempting to clear their names by proving Moss is still alive. The setup is little more than an excuse to get the comedic duo into some silly hijinks that deliver laughs more often than not, especially if you're a fan of the series. Even if you aren't an established fan, the film is stuffed with cameos of fashion and celebrity icons to keep things interesting.
Cameron Crowe's seminal road movie never quite landed with me, but I understand it's place as an American classic. Teenager William (Patrick Fugit) goes on the road with an up and coming band, Stillwater, to cover them for Rolling Stone. William, the band, and groupie Penny (Kate Hudson) hang out and bond while the usual mundane things that come with a movie about a band you can imagine happening happen. The period piece benefits greatly from career best performances from a large amount of its stacked cast and a killer (if overplayed and on the nose) soundtrack that perfectly fits the meandering coming of age tale surrounding it.
FilmStruck added a handful of Woody Allen's movies over this last week, so I decided to highlight one of the legendary director's funniest. Bananas is chock-full of one liners and goofy situations that don't always land but when they do they really do. Allen casts himself as Fielding Mellish, a schmuck who ends up as a part of a resistance to overthrow the president of the fictional country of San Marcos. Through pure dumb luck, he ends up not only helping the coup but becoming the new president. Of course in classic Woody Allen fashion, he stumbles into doing it all to get the girl by showing her he's more than she thinks, even though he very much is not.
Also on FilmStruck: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, Love and Death, The Silent Partner, My Night at Maud's, People on Sunday, My Life as a Dog, Jane Eyre, The Robber, Drunken Angel, Open Hearts